Summer may not be the ideal time to visit a college because it can feel empty without students on campus. But the reality for families is that’s when it is often most convenient. It’s hard to get away during the school year when students are juggling demanding classes, studying for the SAT, working, and participating in activities their junior and senior years.
There are ways to make the most out of your summer visit. A piece in the Charlotte News Observer includes some helpful suggestions. One is to schedule your visit during freshman orientation. Then you can get a glimpse of the new class and ask the students questions about how they chose that particular school.
Although there may be fewer tours, be sure to get the schedule in advance and go on one. Take time to wander around campus afterward to look at the recreation center and other buildings and grab lunch in the dining hall.
A big part of getting the feel for a campus is checking out the town. Walk from campus to nearby stores and restaurants. Ride the local public transportation. This experience shouldn’t differ much if you are visiting in the summer or fall.
If you are squeezing in many visits on a summer tour, enjoy the ease of parking, more plentiful hotel options, and other advantages of not visiting when the campus is jam-packed. While there aren’t as many students to see, there likely are some around going to summer school.
Seize on the availability of campus staff to answer your questions. There may be more professors in their offices to chat with rather than in the classrooms teaching. Same goes for financial-aid and admissions officers who might have more time to talk with you than during the school year.
In the summer, you can also weave college visits into your family vacation, making it a bit more economical. It can be a preview for the younger siblings of what ahead for them.
For general tips on making the most of college visits, see my past blog here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.